Carnival mood in Assam as youth and women flock to vote

Guwahati: 'Rongali Bihu' (Spring festival) seems to have come early to Assam with enthusiastic youth and women voters flocking to the booths in a carnival mood to cast their votes in the first phase of polling in five parliamentary constituencies Monday.

With Bihu round the corner, the pleasant spring weather also contributed to the festive spirit in the Upper Assam constituencies. Tea garden workers, mostly women, in Dibrugarh, Jorhat, Kaliabor and Tezpur in Upper Assam, dressed in their colourful best, were seen queueing outside the booths since 6 am, an hour before polling began.

''We want to vote early and become free for the day as the government has declared a holiday today. We want to relax and enjoy after exercising our franchise'', said tea worker Pratima Gowala of Moran in Dibrugarh district.

In urban areas, too, women were seen in sizeable numbers outside the polling booths as they waited patiently to exercise their franchise.

''We have decided not to delay in casting our votes. We want to be a part of the democratic process and prove the importance of our vote'', housewife Sunita Hazarika of Tezpur town said.

Youths, including 6.52 lakh first time voters in the state comprising 3.5 per cent of the total electorate, also flocked to the booths in hordes though later in the day.

''I am very excited to cast my vote for the first time. I am aware that my vote is valuable and will not let it go waste'', 19-year old Diganta Gogoi, a first year student of Jorhat Engineering College said.